Ask Dr. Nerdlove by Harris O'Malley

How Do I Tell Dates I Don’t Want To Have Sex?

DEAR DR. NERDLOVE:  I’m a geeky girl in college, a gamer, very socially active, and generally a direct person.  I’ve been asked out a few times at parties and I’d like to switch things up by asking (other geeky) guys out myself, but… there’s always a but.

What’s holding me back is, well, sex.  Or more like expectations about sex.  The impression I’ve generally gotten is that the older my peers are, the less time they wait before having sex.  I’d like to date and get to know some guys, but I’m not interested in hooking up or doing anything sexual with a relative acquaintance or someone I’m not in at least a semi-serious relationship with.  The other thing is that if a woman is forward and initiates contact, the expectation seems to be that she’s experienced and well aware of how to flirt, and I don’t really have any experience with guys romantically or sexually.  

So basically, how do I flirt with guys and ask them out while making it clear we’re not about to tumble into bed at the end of the first date… or the second… and so on without scaring them off?  And while minimizing potential awkward and misunderstandings.  I’m not looking to ~wait til marriage~ or set a strict time for when I’m down to do what, but I know I wouldn’t feel comfortable being intimate with someone I’m not already close to.

Takes Her Time

DEAR TAKES HER TIME: It’s pretty simple, THT; you just tell ’em.

Now, it’s true that there are a lot of guys who expect some sort of accelerated time-table when it comes to sex; some will expect it as soon as humanly possible, others have their own version of the three date rule, where if the girl doesn’t put out within three dates, he moves on to the next one in line.

Thing is: this isn’t all men by any stretch of the imagination. I mean, yeah, just about every guy out there will want sex as quickly as he can get it… after all, sex is pretty damn awesome when you do it right. But just because we’re willing to bang out as soon as it’s offered doesn’t mean that there aren’t plenty of guys who will quite happily take the time that is required for the two of you to reach the level comfort and intimacy you feel you need before you’re ready to sleep with him.

Don’t let random bullshit ideas about gender roles hold you back from being willing to make the first move. Just because you were willing to approach a guy doesn’t automatically mean that you’re obligated to move faster than you feel comfortable with.

Now, as for how you tell them? Well, you said it pretty well in your letter. “I’m not looking to ~wait til marriage~ or set a strict time for when I’m down to do what, but I know I wouldn’t feel comfortable being intimate with someone I’m not already close to,” is concise, to the point and sets up exactly what to expect.

When you tell them can be tricky; you don’t really want to blurt it out between the endive salad and the coq au vin, when it would be a bit of a non-sequitur but you also don’t want to wait until his pants are around his ankles and he’s giving you then “Eh? Eh?” head-gestures.  I would recommend relatively soon into the first significant make-out session; some time after the first good-night kiss and before he’s going for some under-the-shirt action. Pull back a second and let him know where you stand.

And don’t stress out about chasing guys off or standing firm. A guy who isn’t willing to accept your limits is not a guy you want to date. If knowing he’s not getting a beej by the second date is going to make him look for other pastures, you really aren’t suffering any great loss. He’s just putting you one more step closer to finding a guy who is right for you.

Good luck.

DEAR DR. NERDLOVE: I have a question about “Friends with Benefits” relationships. An old friend and I have slipped into one of these after drunkenly hooking up one night. I have no interest in dating her at all and she says that she is ok with that, and she just wants to hook up.

However I’m really nervous now because this relationship is secret and we basically have the same circle of friends. And I’ve heard from people that these types of relationships always end in disaster. While I’m enjoying the “benefits” of this relationship, is it really destined to end terribly? And when I meet a girl that i want to start a real relationship with, do you think we will be able to end it with her without hurt feelings?

Threading The Needle

DEAR THREADING THE NEEDLE: Here’s the secret to making a casual or FWB relationship work: put less emphasis on the “casual” or “with benefits” part and more on the “friend” and “relationship” parts.

The single biggest reason why casual relationships end with people being hurt is because people treat the “casual” label as an excuse to treat the person they’re in the relationship casually. There’s a tendency to see casual relationships or FWBs as less “real” or “meaningful” than more traditional, committed relationships and, as a result, we get careless with other people’s feelings in ways we wouldn’t if we slapped the “boyfriend/girlfriend” label on it.

Even if the relationship is purely sexual and you are both aware that nothing else will ever come of it, that doesn’t mean that the only thing to do is show up, have sex, wipe yourself off on the curtains and take off. You may not want to go on romantic, candle-lit dinners or trips to gorgeous, secluded B&Bs, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be treating the person you’re banging with respect and friendship.

Hell, even if you both agree that you’re doing this to scratch an itch, nobody likes being treated like a human-shaped sex-toy (with the exception of having actually agreed to that up front, anyway). That’s a great way to turn an enjoyable and fulfilling relationship into something filled with regret and remorse.

The way you keep a FWB relationship from ending badly is the same way you keep any other relationship from ending badly: open communication and honesty. Be straight forward with how you feel, be open and receptive to how she feels. Keep those lines of communication open and make sure that she knows that she can talk to you about the relationship. Hell, it may not be a bad idea to have occasional check-ins to make sure you’re both getting your needs met and you’re on the same page.

Want to know how to poison a FWB relationship from the get-go? Treat it as something shameful or something that’s doomed. I can appreciate wanting to be discrete, but you need to keep in mind: this isn’t about how your friends may feel, this is about the two of you. It’s up to you two to decide what the rules are for your relationship; nobody else gets a say.

And while I totally can understand the fun of having a dirty little secret, sometimes the stress of keeping things on the down-low can overtake the thrill of sneaking around.

Part of the way you can negate any potential drama from people finding out is by not treating it like a shameful secret you two have to take to the grave. You may not want to make out in front of your friends, but you don’t have to pretend like you aren’t banging, especially if folks ask. A good rule of thumb when it comes to avoiding drama is to not treat this like a big deal. You’re friends, occasionally you hook up, it’s all good. If your friends aren’t the type of people who can understand that not every relationship has to be moving towards the white-picket-fence/two-cars/two-point-five-kids goal and are going to give you s

t for that… well, it may be time to consider whether these are friends you want in your life.

But here’s the thing: every relationship ends until one doesn’t. Friends with benefits relationships always end one of two ways: either you quit having sex, or you quit being friends. This doesn’t mean you’re doomed either way. You may decide to stop having sex because one of you has fallen for someone else, or because you decide the sexual side of your friendship has come to it’s natural and mutual conclusion. You may stop being friends because you fell in love and now you’re “officially” dating… hell, you may drift apart naturally, for reasons that have nothing to do with the fact that you were sleeping together.

It’s impossible to say whether you would be able to end the sexual aspect of your relationship without pain or tears – there’re so many variables that you’d get better results rolling a d20 and hoping to make your Save Vs. Drama (with advantage). But then again: there are no guarantees that you can end ANY type of relationship, sexual or platonic, without hurt feelings. All I can say is that being a stand-up, honest and compassionate guy will make things easier regardless of how it ends.

Good luck.

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